Can you get a DUI in West Virginia for sleeping it off in your car?

Can you get a DUI in West Virginia for sleeping it off in your car?

| Sep 24, 2020 | Criminal Law

It’s late, and you had a few more drinks than you should have. Your friends have all left, and you’re smart enough to know that you shouldn’t ever get behind the wheel while intoxicated. You decide to sleep off the liquor in your car and drive home when you wake up.

The next thing you know, there’s a knock on the window and an officer is ordering you out of your vehicle and asking questions. You’re given a Breathalyzer test and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

Could this really happen? Absolutely. West Virginia law defines “driving” as having “physical control” of a vehicle — even if that vehicle isn’t in motion. This means that even if you’re asleep in your vehicle with your car keys in your pocket and the ignition turned off, you’re still liable to face drunk driving charges.

Previous case decisions have affirmed that officers can arrest you any time they have “reasonable grounds to believe” that you may have been driving drunk. For all the officer knows, you may have driven to your current location before you realized that you were too inebriated to keep going and parked the car.

Like most states, West Virginia imposes some pretty harsh penalties on drunk drivers. You can lose your license to drive, face significant fines and even time in jail. Plus, your insurance rates will go up for quite a long time. It’s far better to call for a ride if you’re out and realize that you’re intoxicated. If you do make a mistake, however, make sure that you have an experienced attorney looking out for you.